Workers' Control under State Socialism

The Forgotten Workers’ Control Movement of Prague Spring

In his book, Pete Dolack retells the story of the workers' council movement in former Czechoslovakia that sprang up after the Soviet invasion in 1968.

At the time of the [August 1968] Soviet invasion [of Czechoslovakia], two months after the first workers’ councils were formed, there were perhaps fewer than two dozen of them, although these were concentrated in the largest enterprises and therefore represented a large number of employees. But the movement took off, and by January 1969 there were councils in about 120 enterprises, representing more than 800,000 employees, or about one-sixth of the country’s workers. This occurred despite a new mood of discouragement from the government from October 1968. read more »

Spectrum, Trajectory and the Role of the State in Workers’ Self-Management

Workers’ self-management is associated with times of social transformation. The state may chose to either restrict self-management or facilitate it so the conflict is institutionalised and contained.

Workers’ self-management and related forms of workers’ control over production is associated with periods of societal transformation. In its most advanced form it presents a challenge to capitalist property relations as part of a revolutionary process. Workers’ Councils, as a form of self-management, have occurred under capitalism but also in Communist command economy states. The relationship between the practice of self-management and the class nature of the state is not, however, straightforward.  read more »

Lines of (Dis)Continuity: Forms and Methods of Labour Struggle in Croatia 1990-2014

Tracing the continuity and discontinuity of workers’ struggles from the times of socialist Yugoslavia by observing phenomena such as workplace occupations and the engagement of civil society.

When assessing the importance of individual cases of company occupations by the workers it is necessary to take into account both the period in which such actions took place and the historical legacy of socialist self-management. The entire decade of the 1990s was permeated with strong nationalist resentments characterized by a deep hostility towards organizations, institutions and practices perceived as part of the Yugoslav socialist project. read more »

Self-Management and Requirements for Social Property: Lessons from Yugoslavia

This paper evaluates the role of self-management in achieving equity and efficiency drawing from the experience of Yugoslavia, an economy at least nominally self-managed on a system-wide scale.

Problems with transitions in Eastern Europe have focused attention on alternatives to both central-planning and unregulated markets. Naive enthusiasm for the market has already begun to wane in the face of growing economic chaos and inequality, precipitating a search for more humane and stable forms of organization. Theoretically and in practice, worker self-management is being advocated as a system able to produce efficiently and at the same time distribute goods and power equitably.
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Worker self-management in historical perspective

A 2002 essay that surveys the great potentialities of worker self-management and draws up some lessons from historical experiences during the 20th century.


Worker self-management (WSM) has re-emerged as a major movement in Argentina, particularly this year with over 200 factories organized and controlled by their workers and a national co-coordinator of self-managed enterprises in the process of being organized. read more »

Yugoslavia’s self-management

Sixty years ago, the Federal Assembly of Yugoslavia inaugurated workers' self-management. The Yugoslav experiment is a gold mine of experiences; it was the most comprehensive long-term attempt to establish popular self-government in history. As such, its analysis is a very useful starting point for the future: as it is useful to learn about the positive aspects of this experience, it is also good to learn from Yugoslav mistakes and limitations. read more »

Workers Control: The Czechoslovak Experience

Robert Vitak

The discussion about workers' control or the general extension of industrial democracy raises for most socialists some fundamental problems of power in society; but not, it should be noted, for some of the more recent advocates of the idea. When Anthony Wedgwood Benn, for example, came forward last year with his contribution he was quite explicit in his view that "real workers' control" would fit comfortably within the existing relations of power : read more »

Jugoslavias's crossroads

The worship of prices in Jugoslavia has lead to distortions associated with the "fetishism" of commodities

Socialists all over the world have shown increasing interest in the workings of the Jugoslav economy in recent years. The discrediting of Stalinism and a growing appreciation of the economic and political problems of the bureaucratic State have focused attention on the techniques of decentralization that the Jugoslavs have been practising since the break with the Soviet Union in 1948. Today the Jugoslav "model" arouses envy in many parts of Eastern Europe as well as alarm in China. read more »

Book Review: "Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present"

Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini, eds., Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present - Chicago: Haymarket, 2011

Ours to Master and to Own is a compilation of articles offering a historical and global overview of workers’ efforts to gain control over their workplaces, the economy, and governance. It is wonderfully organized in both a chronological and thematic logic, from the nineteenth century through the early twenty-first century, while also moving from a general historical overview toward more specific explanations of how worker democracy was implemented and fought in particular cases. read more »

Book Review: "Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present"

Immanuel Ness and Dario Azzellini, eds., Ours to Master and to Own: Workers’ Control from the Commune to the Present - Chicago: Haymarket, 2011

The fact that the publisher is Haymarket Publishers indicates that the book under examination is concerned with labor studies. This particular book is an anthology of twenty-two articles by various authors, who specialize in labor movements or the history of workers’ organizations. read more »

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